The legality or illegality of abortion in Nigeria has dominated public debate in recent times vis-à-vis the use of contraceptives by women. The recent concern is that more and more young women prefer to abort a pregnancy rather than use contraceptives, CHALYA DUL writes
Seventeen-year -old Adetorera suggests that one of the reasons adolescents prefer abortion is that they see it as an immediate way out of an unplanned pregnancy.
Another teenager, Osinachi, a student in one of the secondary schools in Abuja, said the major reason why adolescents seek termination of pregnancy is so that it does not interfere with school and tie them down to the responsibilities of parenthood.
Amina, a banker argued that in the case of rape or incest, forcing a woman to become pregnant by this violent act would cause further psychological harm to the victim. “Often, a woman is too afraid to speak up or is unaware she is pregnant, thus the morning-after-pill is ineffective in these situations and the only option to put the ugly incident behind is to abort the pregnancy,” she said.
Abortion is common amongst most Nigerian adolescents, irrespective of the danger and illegality involved; hinging their reasons over fear of the serious fertility implications the use of contraceptives poses.
High level of unprotected sexual activity among unmarried young women, which in most cases result in unwanted pregnancy could be said to be responsible for the high trend of the act.
Abike Adebola, a Nursing student in one of the tertiary institutions in the South-West views that, “A whole lot of Nigerian adolescents will seek abortion rather than contraceptives because of the fear of future infertility the long-term use contraceptives might pose.”
She gave an instance of an adolescent who abused contraceptives and after some time found out that the drugs were no longer effective to her system and she became pregnant. As a result of this occurrence, she resorted to always go through induced abortion rather than relying on any contraceptives as a pre-cautionary measure against unwanted pregnancy.
Young unmarried women no doubt have diverse reasons for their abortion preference over contraceptives. But, is it a safe form of pregnancy prevention? A medical practitioner, Iboro Etukmana of Asokoro General Hospital said: “Abortion is safe. It only depends on the environment that it is carried out. It is not safe if carried out in an unsterile environment because it is meant to be done in a theatre”.
Abortion could be either at term (the act of giving birth) or before term: terminating the pregnancy. Generally, whatever is done in medical practice is believed to have a level of side effects. The vast majority of women – 88% – who have an abortion do so in their first trimester. Medical abortions have less than 0.5% risk of serious complications and do not affect a woman’s health or future ability to become pregnant or give birth.
Today the most common method used for teenage abortion is Suction Aspiration. It is usually done within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and involves the use of a machine 30 times more powerful than a household vacuum.”
On the need for young women to critically assess their decision before embarking on it, a mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Egbeogu said, “If you have an unwanted pregnancy and you are contemplating aborting it, please don’t be quick with your decision.
Your baby’s life depends on what you decide. Think about how far along you are and realise your baby is growing and developing within you. If possible, get an ultrasound and see your baby before you make this decision. This is a real child within you; your baby.”
On the premise of hinging the reason for committing abortion on being a rape victim, a psychologist who pleaded anonymity said, “Abortion in the case of rape is at the expense of the emotional, physical and mental stability of thousands of women, as well as the lives of children.
Rape is a horrendous crime that leaves a woman in a state of mental, physical and emotional turmoil. When a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape (which happens less than 1 per cent of the time), abortion will not take away the trauma, the nightmares, the pain – it will only add to them!”
In Nigeria today, it is believed that the laws on abortion allows it be performed to save the lives of the woman. A bill to legalise abortion in Nigeria in 1982 was defeated as religious leaders and the Nigerian National Council of Women’s Society of Nigeria who feared that its passage would promote promiscuity kicked strongly against it.
On the above facts, it is strongly advised that young women weigh their options thoroughly before embarking on their choice option of unwanted pregnancy prevention as the action we take today would go a long way to shape our tomorrow.